Thursday, November 27, 2014

Whole Wheat

Remember Rosie Schwartz? She's a Canadian nutritionist and author of The Enlightened Eater, a book we purchased 30 years or so ago and which has had a prominent place on my cookbook shelf ever since. We were so taken with Rosie's information and common sense that we attended an author presentation when she came to the school just around the corner from where we were living at the time.

Rosie Schwartz Enlightened Eater

It looks like the book has probably been updated and reissued a few times since it was first published.

Now, many years later, Rosie has a blog, and is still informing us about nutritional issues. The blog offers up tips and tricks, nutrition news and book reviews. There are recipes to try and questions answered.

One of the recent questions that came via Rosie's Facebook Page concerned the difference between whole grain and whole wheat. I have always thought that if I was using whole wheat flour in a recipe that I was also getting whole grain, but that is incorrect. Only certain brands of whole wheat flour are also whole grain.

Here's what Rosie says:

 In Canada, outdated legislation allows for up to 70 per cent of the germ to be removed and the product can still be called whole wheat.

A whole grain contains the entire kernel of the grain which includes three parts – the outer bran, the endosperm and the inner germ. So if you thought that whole wheat should mean the entire kernel of a wheat grain, you would be wrong if you’re Canadian.

Health Canada thinks that if you’re looking for whole grain wheat, you should look for “whole grain whole wheat”.  It seems redundant to me. Would you agree?

As a result, if you purchase whole wheat flour – if it’s a Canadian brand, with a few exceptions,  it’s likely not whole grain. It’s still offering you more in the way of nutritional value than all-purpose but whole grain is the best.

Rosie offers a list of Canadian whole wheat flours with a note as to whether they are whole grain or not. As you can imagine, the brands we usually buy, e.g. Robin Hood, are not whole grain. The only brand I recognized that is whole grain is Bob's Red Mill, a US brand.

Organic Whole Wheat Flour

Here's a link to her blog post about Whole Grain . While you're visiting there, have a look around. I think you'll find her blog very informative. And if you have a nutritional question that's been nagging you for awhile, visit her Facebook page.

Rosie isn't much impressed by the arguments for being gluten-free (Wheat Belly and Grain Brain are two books she mentions) but she does point out that our generation is eating much more gluten than previous generations, thanks to the prevalent use of wheat (largely hidden, but check the ingredient list) in processed foods, which are so popular and quick. I think that limiting our intake of processed foods and of baking in general, whether gluten-free or not, just makes sense. And if we are going to eat something made of wheat, we should make sure it's the most nutritious baked good we can find, not just whole wheat, but whole grain to maximize its goodness.We are what we eat!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Strainer Art

This interesting artform by Isaac Cordal caught my eye the other day.

The idea is that light shining through the strainer leaves an image on the surface below. 

  • Strainer Shadow Art by Isaac Cordal: Isaac-Cordal-sculpture7.jpg

The Spanish-born (1974) artist is better known for his creation and placement of tiny cement figures in public places around the world, part of an on-going project called "Cement Eclipses". 

The following installation was part of Casus Pacis in St. Petersburg, Russia in August, 2014 and was dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I and to the on-going revolution in Ukraine.


Cordal also had an installation in Berlin recently called "Waiting for Climate Change" which I encourage you to have a look at

See more of his work here .

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Comme Une Francaise

Salut! I just discovered this charming young French woman who uses YouTube videos to help us improve our French. Well, actually, it's intended for expats trying to get along in France. But we can all pretend, right? Besides, who doesn't want to be better at speaking French.

As well as being an engaging teacher with a wonderful smile, Géraldine Lepère zeroes in on the problems we all experience in the French language. Her videos are too numerous to mention so here are just a couple to whet your appetite. After that visit  Géraldine's blog, Comme Une Francaise for more and to access online guides. By the way, the comments sections are often full of information.

First up, 9 ways to order coffee in French...

Then, time to go? Here's how to say it elegantly. After all that's what it's all about right?

and remember, 


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Naked Rambler Update

Remember the Naked Rambler in the UK? Refresh your memory here. His name is Stephen Gough and he believes that he (and anyone else who agrees with him) has the right to walk on the public footpaths in Britain without clothing. In fact, he thinks public nudity should be a human right.

Naked Rambler

He has probably spent as much time incarcerated as he has walking and now he has found out that British courts do not agree that he has the right to be naked in a public place. At the end of October the court ruled that his public nudity goes beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior and could be "alarming and morally and otherwise offensive" to others.

Gough, a former marine nicknamed the "Naked Rambler," has twice walked the length of Britain, with frequent interruptions for arrests, court appearances and jail time. He has served multiple sentences for appearing nude in places, including courts and an airplane.

Gough called the judgment a disappointment but added: "I have no choice but to continue."

Monday, November 10, 2014

In Remembrance

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The following video, a drone flying over Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, gives us a bird's eye view and a deeper appreciation of the extent of the Tower of London installation, especially moving when we consider that each of the 888,246 ceramic poppies represents a Commonwealth life lost during the First World War.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch is a heavy volume, almost at heavy as The Luminaries. And yes, it’s another long read, over 750 pages.

When I finished reading The Goldfinch, I realized I’d been reading about terrorism, drugs, depression, gambling, Russian mafia, violence and crime. If you’d told me that before I started, I probably wouldn't have picked the book up, but I’m so glad I did. What an amazing story! For me it was another total immersion experience where I surfaced only to make meals and sleep. I wouldn't have wanted to miss it.

Theo, a 13-year old boy, visiting an NYC art museum with his mom suddenly finds himself in the midst of a horrible bombing – dead bodies everywhere and his mom nowhere to be seen. By happenstance he is able to escape from the ruins of the building with a signet ring given to him by a dying man and a small but very valuable painting.

The Goldfinch, a well-known oil painting by 17th century artist, Carol Fabritius had already survived a 1654 explosion that killed the 32-year old artist in his own studio in the Dutch city of Delft. This painting of a tiny goldfinch chained to its perch was especially loved and extolled by Theo’s mother shortly before the devastating explosion that killed her and Theo has the sense that he is the painting’s rescuer.

This day of dust and destruction sets Theo off into a life unexpected, one in which he is burdened with post traumatic stress disorder, unacknowledged and untreated. The Goldfinch becomes a touchstone for Theo, connecting him to his old life and his mom, but eventually the painting turns into a liability – how to keep a valuable piece of art safe, how to return it to the museum without being charged with theft…

Twists and turns, engaging characters, symbolism related to the painting - all make this book a reading adventure. I highly recommend it, but beware the length of the novel and read it when only you have plenty of time, because, trust me, you won't want to tear yourself away.

Here is a list of awards for The Goldfinch and a video interview of the author:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Remembrance Day in Canada is going to be especially emotional this year after two Canadian soldiers were targeted and killed in separate incidents just over a week ago. Many Canadians will  be buying and wearing poppies to remember the fallen heroes, past and present.

In the UK, to recognize the very special 100-year anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, a major art installation, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, is being put together in London at the Tower of London.

888,246 ceramic poppies, designed by artist Paul Cumming and made and installed by hundreds of volunteers have been filling up the Tower's moat over the summer. The final poppy is slated to be installed on Armistice Day, November 11. Each poppy represents the family of a British fatality (including Commonwealth - and there were more than 65,000 Canadians) during the First World War. 

The poppies have been offered for sale (£25.00) and after November 11 they will be packaged up and sent all over the world. Proceeds will go to help 6 different charities. I believe they have already sold out.

For more information go here.